Muslims Sue to Stop NYPD Surveillance

'We thought this died with McCarthy era'
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2012 1:24 AM CDT
Muslims Sue to Stop NYPD Surveillance
New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says routine surveillance of Muslims is perfectly legal.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

A group of New Jersey Muslims and organizations are suing the New York City Police Department over its discriminatory and "unconstitutional" practice of monitoring law-abiding Muslims, they're charging in a federal lawsuit. “The facts are just so compelling, what the NYPD is doing is egregious," said Glenn Katon, legal director of Muslim Advocates, which is representing the plaintiffs. The Associated Press earlier this year revealed a secret operation in which New York police were monitoring Muslims outside mosques and religious schools, and at student meetings in New York and New Jersey. Investigators have taken down license plate numbers of cars parked at mosques, and noted patrons in shops that cater to Muslims.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have defended the program as necessary for security—and legal. “NYPD activities in New Jersey were lawful, appropriate, and in keeping with efforts there, in New York, and around the world to prevent terrorists from returning here to kill more New Yorkers," said Kelly's deputy commissioner. The plaintiffs are suing to end the surveillance and to expunge collected information, reports the Christian Science Monitor. “We thought that these things were left behind during the McCarthy era, targeting people based on race and religion alone, vilifying an entire community,” said the legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. “We need some accountability." (More NYPD stories.)

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